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A History of Greece to 322 BC
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 September 2009
I agree with the previous reviewer. This is a superlative narrative history. Well-written, clear and incisive both in analyzing the main themes in the history of ancient Greece and in synthesizing them into a coherent whole over an extended (pre-Classical and Classical) period. It was a joy to read, at several points "unputdownable", which cannot be said of all works of academic history. I was particularly impressed by the use of non-literary (archaeological etc) evidence in the archaic period. Excellent maps were interspersed through the text, although I would have welcomed page reminders within the text to relevant maps located earlier in the book. I would also have welcomed at least a synoptic bibliography to encourage further research. However, considerations of spatial economy no doubt prevailed and these are minor criticisms of what seems the best one volume history of its kind. Outstanding!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 January 2012
As an archaeologist I have been watching out for a successor to Hammond's Ancient Greece text book since the mid 1980's. Archaeology has added a considerable contribution to the data since the 3rd Edition of this book in 1986, but there has been nothing on the scale of mastery achieved by Hammond since... well 1959 when I believe this book was first published. His book is nearly a generation out of date with regard to the inclusion of new evidence, but is still unrivalled as a comprehensive introduction to the subject. This gives one a peculiar insight into the priorities or lack thereof of the modern classical scholar. Fig 6 in Hammond is based on the old 1900's plan of the palace of Knossos published by Rev Baikie. A plan which is still totally relevant because it hasn't been replaced yet with a full modern published archaeological building survey! It is of course merely the inconsequential first palace in Western civilisation, so it warrants low interest. Presumably slaves, wimmin, and the social history of broken pots for their own sake are still exercising the minds and attention of our greatest contemporary scholars...?
Hammond wrote his work based much on his own military experience in the Aegean region, where he was fluent and well versed in the geography. He brings to mind that other classical genius: J F C Fuller, who wrote 'The Generalship of Alexander the Great' based upon a personal knowledge of the battle sites themselves. Hammond, I note with unrepentant glee, added a few of his own too! One begins to wonder whether military expertise is a non optional pre-requisite for the would-be classical scholar? The modern tradition of over specialisation, bureaucratisation, and herd like allegiance to what ever historical trend is presently bleating its way up the column inches, has failed to produce a worthy successor to Hammond- most unfortunate. His prescience in declaring that Vergina was probably the capital/burial site of the Macedonian royal families well before the now discredited 'Phillip' burial and earlier discoveries, was remarkable. His descriptions of Minoan features give a clarity of image that are comparable with the unforgettable first sight one had as a child of the mummies in the British Museum. Without no photos nor numerous illustrations neither!
As A level Ancient History students we thought our Hammond textbook was unbelievably dated, 30 years later I'm beginning to wonder what's wrong with the Classics, when a 50 year old book, a generation out of date is still the best all round text available. Try reading another of Cambridge's finest- Prof Walbank's 'Hellenistic' history, which should be a successor to Hammond's period to 322BC and instead: squirm at the incoherent virtually unreadable narrative! That Cambridge Classics should have come to this... [as one might remark sardonically whilst smugly ensconced in the Hadden...!]
So in conclusion, most excellent, the first book to start with if you're newly into Ancient Greece, and the final book to buy if you're a Professor of Classics, and about to write your magnus opossum* and need a little help on style, scale, content, plan, approach, etc etc...

*it is now..!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 5 October 2007
Superb, one of my "desert island" books. A deceptively dry start, is followed by a fascinating study of ancient Greece.
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